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Comprehensive Spending Review: The road ahead

6 October 2010

On 20 October the Chancellor of the Exchequer will announce the Comprehensive Spending Review to Parliament.

One of my great frustrations is that there has been no detail about the future cuts in the funding of universities. We know they are coming but at the moment they simply hang over us like the Sword of Damocles. This has meant that we have not been able to be clear with you in terms of what we believe the impact will be on the University and how we plan to deal with the challenges. Meanwhile, there have been many speculations and leaks in the press, some of which are wildly wrong and only confuse the issues.

I can report that the measures we are taking to decrease costs and increase income are proving successful, and that we are in as strong a position as possible to address the future challenges. On 20 October the Chancellor of the Exchequer will announce the Comprehensive Spending Review to Parliament. This will contain the headlines of the cuts but the devil, as always, will be in the detail, some of which will come out after the announcement (we may have to wait until January to know some of the finer detail and how it will affect Bristol).

But we believe that by mid-November we will have a good idea about what these cuts mean for us and what their timing will be over the next five years. As such we will have outline plans about how we will deal with them. Therefore, I, Derek Pretty and David Clarke will be arranging open meetings in all areas of the University to describe these plans and their implications. Deans will be arranging these with Heads of Schools, as will Directors of Support Services with their staff. We won’t have all the answers, but we will be able to be much more specific.

In the midst of this uncertainty, it is important to maintain our perspective and remember that this University has survived the Great Depression, two World Wars, the destruction of its main building, the cuts of the 1980s and two big recessions since 1945. Not only have we overcome these challenges, but we are now better placed than ever before. I have no doubt that we will not only survive these threats, but that our staff have the talent and professionalism to ensure we emerge even stronger.

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